Sue Ozdemir is one of Canada’s proven leaders in the innovation and manufacturing of electric motors. She has worked across North America, Asia, and Europe in key executive roles, advancing the innovation and commercialization of electric motor technology in numerous sectors.
After almost a decade at General Electric, where she became chief commercial officer and then CEO of GE’s Small Industrial Motors Division, she decided in the autumn of 2019 to take on a new challenge: CEO of Exro Technologies. That Canadian company was developing what she calls “a brain” for electric motors, to dramatically improve their performance, particularly in the mobility sector with respect to electric and non-electric cars, heavy equipment, and last-mile transportation vehicles such as motorcycles, e-bicycles, and e-scooters.
“When I learned about Exro’s breakthrough technology, and then saw it in action, I knew I had to take on the role as CEO of Exro,” said Ozdemir. “Exro’s technology is now proven and I believe we will have global impact. Not just in making electric motors and powertrains much more efficient for businesses, but also in contributing to our planet’s environment by making sure we get the most out of the energy we put into the electric motors that are essential to so many parts of our daily lives.”
Sue returned to Calgary in 2019, to take up her new role as Exro’s CEO. She has since put together a team to advance Exro’s innovation and commercialization program. Working out of the new Exro Innovation Center in Calgary, where ongoing R&D in power electronics, motors, generators and batteries are the focus, she has made it Exro’s mission to help the world use minimum energy to get maximum results from electric motors. Investor interest is growing in the company and the Exro team have now completed more than a half-dozen partnerships with mobility companies to commercialize Exro’s technology.
“A company — and a CEO —can only succeed with a team of talented people behind them,” she says. “Building that team, and constantly adding to it in a disciplined way, has been my priority at Exro. That’s the secret to success when you are bringing a new innovation to market.”
Building rapid commercialization strategies isn’t new to Sue. After building up GE’s Small Industrial Motors Division in global markets, that GE division drew international interest. That’s why GE asked her to be part of the executive team to sell its Small Industrial Motors Division to China’s largest motor manufacturer, Wolong Electric. That goal was achieved in 2018, after which Sue was asked to stay on by Wolong as CEO of the newly formed GE Industrial Motors Division. But after a year in that role, the possibilities of Exro’s technology, and the chance to commercialize another new technology, was a challenge she couldn’t resist.
“I’m a company builder and innovator at heart,” said Ozdemir. “Even as a kid in Milton, Ontario, I would work in my family’s motor shop fixing motors and learning about running the business from my parents. Motors are part of my DNA. That’s why the opportunity to join Exro and build a team that takes this Canadian-made technology to the global marketplace, to help make the world’s electric motors more sustainable, to make an impact on building a more sustainable future, was a challenge I had to embrace.”
Exro Technologies Inc.
2300-1177 West Hastings Street
Vancouver, British Columbia
V6E 2K3 Canada
Download the Top 100 Canadian Professionals magazine and check out Sue's feature on page 92.